Category Archives: Employee Focus

Coffee and kindness from a UDOT employee

For Jackson Boss, a District Permits Officer for the Utah Department of Transportation’s Region Two, it was just another morning. He ran “blue stakes” tickets, and chose to get some coffee at Sugarhouse Coffee. But what he found there illustrates how he lives the core values of integrity and public responsiveness, on and off the clock.

Jackson Boss

Jackson Boss

As Jackson left the coffee shop, he noticed a wallet in the parking lot, next to his car. He hadn’t noticed it before, and originally wondered if the wallet was a prank. But what he found there wasn’t just a fellow motorist’s ID card. As he looked to see if he could identify the owner, he noticed much more was in her wallet.

“It looked like she had her whole life in there — cash, school ID, important documents,” Boss said. “I’ve lost my fair share of items, and it’s not fun worrying about where you left them or where they went.”

Instead of leaving the wallet at the coffee shop’s lost and found, he chose to bring it to the owner — a Makali’i Brown of Sandy, Utah.

Makali’i described her situation, after posting on Facebook about the event:

“After looking, I was ready to face how much trouble I was in. But I was surprised when my mom handed me the wallet and told me a kind, complete stranger had picked it up and drove all the way from Sugarhouse out of the goodness of his heart. I was surprised that it was completely intact and untampered with.”

Makali'i Brown with a message to the UDOT worker who found her wallet

Makali’i Brown with a message to the UDOT worker who found her wallet

Jackson shrugged off any congratulations when he was told Makali’i wanted to thank him. To him, there was never any doubt what to do.

“I think that you need to be the change you want to see in the world, whether it’s returning a wallet or anything else. ” Boss said.

Thank you to Mikali’i for letting us know about what happened.

Employee Advisory Council January 2015 Meeting

The Employee Advisory Council met January 21, 2015. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Flexible Schedules
  • Performance Plans
  • Team Building Exercises
  • Employee Opportunities
  • Random Drug Testing for all UDOT Employees
  • Mechanics Salary Increases for ASE Certification
  • Policy Limiting Length of Time for Plowing
  • Reimbursement Amount for CDL Physicals

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC January 2015 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

Highlights from the 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2014 report:

  • SUCCESS Framework Initiative
    • Statewide Access Management Program
    • Preconstruction Project Scoping
    • Ports of Entry Truck Processing
    • Snow and Ice Control
    • Procurement System
    • Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance
  • Report Auto Generator for Roadway “As-Builts”
  • Uinta Basin Rail
  • Outdoor Advertising Control Map
  • Automated Queue Warning Detection System
  • Cement-Treated Asphalt Base
  • Citizen Reporter Program
  • Real-Time Winter Road Weather Index Performance Measurement
  • Variable Speed Limit in Parley’s Canyon
  • Snow Fencing Efficiencies

One example from the 2014 report is the SUCCESS Framework Initiative, a set of management principles from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, designed to boost the quality and efficiency of government services, with the goal of improving government operations and services by 25% by the end of 2016. One of the six major systems that UDOT is focusing on for the SUCCESS Framework is the Statewide Access Management Program. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, the Access Management Team reduced the time and labor cost required for processing access permit applications. As a result, the per-permit processing cost was lowered from $1,709 to $1,532 ($177 per permit), providing approximately $42,000 in annual cost savings to UDOT.

Citizen Report ScreenshotAnother example from 2014 is the Citizen Reporter Program, which enlists trained volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. This citizen crowd-sourcing contributes to the quantity, quality and timeliness of traveler information, especially in rural areas. As a result, UDOT saves approximately $250,000 annually from the reduced need for road weather instrumentation, and from efficiencies in storm forecasting.

The UDOT Research Division coordinates each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. We appreciate all of the UDOT Regions and Groups that submitted FY 2014 efficiencies topics and write-ups on the key items. This process will start again in August for FY 2015.

The 2014 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This post was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

I-80 Crash Silver Barrel Awards

Executive Director Carlos Braceras awarded twelve Region Two employees with a Silver Barrel Award for their efforts related to a semi crash on I-80 that closed the road for several hours. Details of their efforts are below and the recipients included:

  • Shane Bushell
  • Rick Debban
  • Nick Jarrett
  • Robert Miles
  • Cody Moore
  • Stuart Ovard
  • Rick Potter
  • Bryant Richins
  • Jason Richins
  • Layne Thornton
  • Dottie Weese
  • Ron Williams

On July 16, 2014, Summit County Dispatch called Bryant Richins the Echo Station Supervisor around 5 a.m. and asked him to respond to a semi crash on I-80 westbound in Echo Canyon.

Due to the severity of this crash and with both semis on fire, I-80 was closed in both directions.

Bryant and his crew provided the traffic control and set up a left lane closure from the Echo Port of entry to the maintenance turnaround at milepost 183. This provided emergency vehicles a way to travel westbound if they needed to get past the crash scene.

I-80 eastbound was opened to one lane of traffic around 8 a.m. The crew was then asked for material to contain the water and hazardous runoff from fighting the fire. Two trucks from the Wanship Station hauled material up and contained the runoff.

The crew then started to assist in the clean up of the crash but the fireman in charge was concerned with the possibility of the loads flaring up. They discussed several possibilities and it was decided the UDOT crew would tip the loads over with their loader so they could get water on it to better extinguish the smoldering fire. This alone was estimated to save a couple of hours in the clean up of the accident.

The UDOT Echo Crew then worked with the tow company and firemen and offered to use their four UDOT ten wheel dump trucks and loader to haul the debris to the landfill. The Summit County Fire Department tried to cut up the burnt semis with their chop saws but it was taking too much time. Bryant offered to have his equipment operator go in with the loader and smash and roll up the debris and then load it in to UDOT’s ten wheelers. This saved an estimated four hours. Bryant then proposed his plan with the UDOT Area Supervisor and called Morgan Asphalt around 9 a.m. to notify them he would need their services in Echo Canyon to rotomill and repave the damaged/burnt asphalt. The crash debris was cleaned up and Morgan Asphalt was able to start rotomilling and paving around 2 p.m. The interstate was repaved and all lanes open to traffic by 5:45 p.m.

This is a great example of successful partnering with Utah Highway Patrol, Summit County Law Enforcement, Summit County Fire Department, Summit County Health Department, Moores Towing, the UDOT Incident Management Team, the UDOT Region Safety Manager, the UDOT Area Supervisor, UDOT Wanship Station 236, and UDOT Echo Station 238! Due to this successful partnering they were able to safely reopen Interstate I-80 and estimated 6 hours early.

This guest post was taken from the Silver Barrel nomination written by Todd Richins, UDOT Region Two East Area Supervisor.

Dan Betts Silver Barrel

Dan Betts received a Silver Barrel Award for his solution to striping problems on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon. After receiving several complaints about low striping visibility Dan and UDOT Central Maintenance determined there was a problem. Dan contacted the manufacturer because the striping was still under warranty and came up with a great solution.

  • The manufacturer would replace the striping tape on I-80 between Mt. Aires Exit 132 and Lambs Canyon Exit 137, including installation and traffic control.
  • The upper section of I-80 from Lambs Canyon Exit 137 to Kimball Junction Exit 145 paint would be applied over the existing striping tape since the pavement is in need of treatment and tape would not be cost effective. The manufacturer would install the paint including the traffic control.
  • UDOT Region Two would provide the grooves for the striping tape to be applied.
  • The manufacturer would provide an additional four year warranty for the entire section, both taped and painted.

Through Dan’s efforts and negotiating skills he was able to improve striping on I-80 through Parley’s Canyon.

This guest post was taken from the Silver Barrel Nomination submitted to the UDOT Administration Office.

Tools for Planning and Monitoring Research Projects

Schematic for project planning

Schematic for project planning

The UDOT Research Division recently updated their Project Management Checklist. The checklist is a tool for use in planning and monitoring progress of new research projects at UDOT. It is available on the Research Division website under Project Tool Box, along with a new Project Management Worksheet which helps to define the project prior to contracting with a university or consultant.

A previous version of the checklist had been in use for several months and was based on project management training given to UDOT regional and central project managers by Ernie Nielsen of BYU. In early 2014 the Research Division staff received additional training from Ernie Nielsen in using the project planning principles within the checklist, including an exercise using an actual new research project. Based on that exercise the checklist was refined and the worksheet was created in July 2014.

Project management worksheet excerpt

Project management worksheet excerpt

The updated checklist is a simplified version of the previous one and is well suited for the typical size of research projects funded at UDOT. The new worksheet helps key individuals inside and outside UDOT, representing groups most affected by and most able to contribute to the research, to define the project objective and deliverables. These tools help research project managers involve the right people in planning and conducting the research, preparing the way for effective implementation of research results at UDOT.

Research projects at UDOT typically have much smaller budgets, have fewer activities or tasks, and are more focused on incremental process improvements than regular UDOT projects. UDOT research projects are usually completed within one or two years, and the majority of these come from the annual Research Workshop where submitted problem statements are prioritized. Both types of projects can benefit from the same project management principles, including effective planning and scheduling of tasks and resources. Scheduling tools used on UDOT research projects vary from basic MS Project files to spreadsheets to track tasks and milestones.

We look forward to working with our research project champions, technical advisory committees, and researchers while benefiting together from using these new tools.

This guest post was written by Davis Stevens, P.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Fall 2014 Research Newsletter.

UDOT Signal Engineering Team receives Governor’s Award for Excellence

Photo of team members standing with Governor Herbert.

Team members with Governor Herbert. From left to right: Shane Marshall, Mark Taylor, Carrie Jacobson, Shane Johnson, Governor Herbert, Rob Clayton, Derek Lowe, Jamie Mackey, Peter Jager and Matt Luker.

For the last three years UDOT’s traffic signal management team has been focused on bringing innovative solutions to Utahns. The team was recently recognized by receiving the Governor’s Award for Excellence from Governor Gary Herbert.

The signal management team has been working on in-house solutions to better track and time traffic signals across the state. UDOT worked with the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University to create software that provides real time traffic information to UDOT. The program was then developed by UDOT and the Department of Technology Services (DTS) and is a web based Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measurement System (SPMs).

SPMs are a series of visual aids that display high-resolution traffic data from vehicle sensors and traffic signal controllers (intersection computers changing the traffic signals) that help agencies effectively manage traffic signals in ways that improve mobility, increase safety, reduce vehicle emissions, preserve pavement infrastructure and use resources more effectively. In most cases on UDOT state roadways, SPMs are accomplished utilizing the same vehicle sensors already deployed at signalized intersections for normal day-to-day operations without the necessity of having to install expensive new equipment or sensors.

The sensors allow analysis of data collected 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (not just during business hours), and provide a clear framework for performance analysis and decision-making. The transportation community uses SPMs to directly measure what they previously could only estimate and model.

The use of the real time and accurate information helps traffic signal engineers make better decisions on signal timing and traffic patterns. Bangerter Highway is a good example of how accurate information helps move traffic. The SPMs were able to increase the amount of cars that reached the intersections at a green light by 19%. The information has also helped with moving large amounts of traffic during one time or recurring special events.

All of this information helps commuters stay on the move, saving them time and money. The cost for this program and the cost of a traffic signal change is very low compared to the amount of travel savings day by day.

In an effort to help traffic around the state UDOT has shared this technology with counties and cities so that they can better understand and monitor their traffic signals. UDOT hopes that the SPM’s will help them to get a more comprehensive idea of their traffic patterns and signal accordingly.

Mark Taylor a Traffic Signal Operations Engineer said “Innovations, creativity, risk and increased transparency are necessary to meet UDOT’s needs.  Automated performance traffic measures allows us to optimize mobility, increase safety and use resources more efficiently.”

UDOT’s goal is to continually refine the use of technology in traffic signals and timing in the future. They are always looking for ways to improve their efficiency and their ultimate goal of keeping Utah moving.

This guest post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

Silver Barrel Awards for Quick Work on S.R. 95

Executive Director Carlos Braceras recently awarded Silver Barrels to several Region Four employees for their efforts in clearing S.R. 95.

Area Engineer

  • Jim Chandler

Blanding Maintenance Station

  • Vance Adams
  • Montana Carr
  • Forrest Crofts
  • Cletis Hatch
  • Paul Marian

Moab Maintenance Station

  • Justin Woodard

Monticello Maintenance Station

  • Ruel Todd Randall

Thompson Maintenance Station

  • Von Bowerman
  • Devan Meadows

Details of their efforts are included below and were taken directly from the nomination.

“This summer employees of the Region Four East District Blasting Crew and the Blanding Maintenance Station came together under the direction of Area Engineer Jim Chandler to clear a massive rock slide on S.R. 95 at Comb Ridge west of Blanding. The crews worked in concert to mobilize equipment, control traffic, purchase explosives and remove material in order to reopen the road in record time.”

“Crew members traveled from Thompson Springs, Moab and Monticello to join forces with the Blanding crew. Twenty-five bore holes were drilled and blasted to facilitate the safe and quick removal of the slide material with rubber tire loaders and backhoes. Thank you to all who took part to safely complete this emergency project, it was a job well done!”

Photos of crews removing rockslide from S.R. 95

SHRP2 Implementation Projects Update

UDOT has received or will be receiving implementation funding on five SHRP2 projects. They are:

SHRP2 Logo

We are undergoing operations assessment to improve travel-time reliability. The goal is to improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce the cost of congestion to drivers, freight operators, and other users. The work is ongoing.

UDOT has been awarded $200K.
Rob Clayton is the UDOT contact for this project.

This is a web-based collection of information and guidance developed from over 40 technologies that are used for new roadways or widening embankments constructed over unstable soils.

Jon Bischoff is the UDOT contact for this project. Liz Cramer is the division FHWA contact.
UDOT has been awarded $30K.

This is a report and program to help design long-life pavements that are cost effective and that minimize the impact on roadway users. We were awarded the User Incentive Assistance which is approximately $20K. We look to begin Spring 2015.

Jason Richins is the contact with technical assistance provided by Steve Anderson, both from UDOT.

T-PICS is a web tool that planners can use to see the impacts that occur as a result of different types of projects in different settings.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $25K for this project.

New spreadsheets were developed that estimate the economic impact for a proposed highway project.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $125K for this project.

This is two petabytes of video and data from 3,150 drivers aged 16-80 with nearly 50 million miles under actual driving conditions. Dr. R.J. Porter and his team from the U of U will be studying driver behavior at entrances and exit ramps on interstates. This research will begin in January 2015.

Phase I has a budget of up to $100K and the option of a phase II and III. The combined value of phase II and III could be close to $1M.

Scott Jones is the UDOT contact for this project.

Five additional SHRP2 implementation products will be released in Round 5 which will begin January 16, 2015.

This guest post was written by Jason Richins, S.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Employee Advisory Council November 2014 Meeting

The Employee Advisory Council met November 3, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Overtime
  • Communicating Meeting Informaiton to Groups
  • Team Building and Morale Issues
  • Training and Conferences
  • Learning from Other States
  • Department Safety Initiative

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC November 2014 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council